Q: We hear a lot about “seeing your eye doctor regularly.” In school aged children, ages 5 through 17, what does regularly mean?
I recommend yearly eye exams for school aged children. In my experience there is not always a complaint that your child is not seeing clearly, this is not always picked up on at a pediatric exam. With our sole focus on eye health a vision, we are more turned into subtle potential vision issues that could be ignored.
Q: What about pre-schoolers? Are there signs parents should look for that would indicate a trip the optometrist is necessary?
Poor hand eye coordination, holding reading material very close or sitting close to the TV are subtle cues that a vision issue may be present. In pre-school age children the biggest problems we look for are an eye turn or potential for amblyopia (one eye not seeing as clear as the other due to high refractive error or eye muscle issues).
Q: Because many children may be too young to read, how is an eye exam conducted if they cannot read a Snelling Chart?
During our exam we shine several lights towards your child. By doing so a verbal response is not necessary. I am able to assess refractive error, eye muscle teaming and ocular health without a response all based on various lights that we use in office.
Q: One of the greatest tasks of a school-aged child is learning to read and in older children, the amount of reading required. What should parents be on the lookout for concerning their child’s reading and potential vision problems?
Skipping lines can be a sign of a eye muscle issue that the eyes are not working well together. If your child gets headaches after reading this can be a sign that there may be a refractive error that glasses can help to alleviate.
Q: We often discuss vision problems as they relate to sitting in a classroom, but what about the playground or vision acuity’s effect on socialization and play?
We always want our child to have the best vision possible so that what they see is not a barrier to learning of any kind.
Q: Today it seems that many children are very quickly diagnosed as learning disabled or dyslexic. How does vision play into the problems and what are the differences?
Depending on the age of your child it is normal to reverse letters. Also moderate far sighted or hyperopic prescriptions can cause the eyes to fatigue easy and can affect the desire to focus for a period of time. It is always important to rule this out to separate from a cognitive disabiltity.
Q: We have many choices today to correct our vision. What do you recommend as the earliest age for contact lenses?
With the advancement in daily replacement contacts I generally say around 10 years old, depending on your child’s motivation. This eliminates the cleaning and disinfecting portion of contacts, which is great for parents. I always want the request for contacts to be a mutual agreement between your child and parent.
Q: Kids can be hard on glasses. Are there effective glasses for children today that last?
Various brands of glasses are very kid friendly, such as flexon frames or ovvo which are virtually indestructible. With any first pair of glasses we always teach the proper way to care for your glasses to ensure they will last.
Q: Vision Therapy appears to be making a comeback and is being utilized by some students to address their vision problems. Can you talk about vision therapy and when it is right for your child?
After the correct pair of glasses has been made and there are still vision complaints such as skipping lines or headaches, vision therapy may be necessary. Seeing double is a major eye muscle issue which may need more aggressive management than glasses alone. Vision therapy can takes months to years to ultimately manage an ocular complaint, so I recommend seeing an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy for complex cases.